The Cote d’Azur is one of the most popular destinations in France – and with its good weather and glorious beaches, that’s hardly a surprise! There’s also a decent dose of glamour in this part of the country, though you’ll find more rustic villages are ready and waiting to welcome you as well.
No matter whether you want to soak up the Cote d’Azur’s famous glitz or have a quieter break, you can find out where to go with our guide. Of course, if more than one place tickles your fancy, there’s nothing to stop you visiting several in one trip – just arrange to pick up a hire car at Nice airport (something you can do through Auto Europe) and treat yourself to a few fun road trips.
We’ll start off by looking at some of the Cote d’Azur’s best loved cities. With a reputation as France’s top port, Marseille is a thriving metropolis that combines classic urban and coastal attractions – a major part of its appeal.
It was founded by the Greeks more than 2, 000 years ago, and last year held the title of European Capital of Culture 2013. This cosmopolitan city is packed with modern attractions, but it’s definitely worth getting to know its more historic side, which you can do in Le Panier.
Sloping streets, artisan shops and pretty terraced houses make up this historic quarter, which was actually rebuilt after being bombed during the second world war.
Without doubt, Cannes is one of the Cote d’Azur’s most glamorous destinations. Famous of course for the Cannes Film Festival held here each May, it is a favourite playground of the rich and famous. Plus, it’s also a fabulous place for keen sailors, with regattas held here every year.
If you fancy coming here during your trip, make sure you hit the shops along La Croisette – the city’s historic promenade, which is lined with boutiques. Also take a trip to the Le Suquet area; once a Roman outpost, this is where the city was born.
Vying with Cannes for the title of most glamorous destination in the Cote d’Azur is St-Tropez. Today, it’s widely known as an epicentre of hedonism, and it’s definitely the place to go if you like the sound of an ultra-indulgent holiday – just remember that it will carry a very high price tag!
If you can, it’s worth coming here outside of July and August. St-Tropez is unbelievably busy during the height of summer and, during the other seasons, you can not only avoid this, but also discover a much more tranquil St-Tropez – think quiet walks on the beach, and people-watching in the Place des Lices.
Nice is the Cote d’Azur’s capital and, with its incredible variety of attractions, is an excellent place for a holiday. It’s one of those rare places that really does fit into the category of ‘having something for everyone’, however cliched that may sound.
This is somewhere you can happily hit the beach and soak up the sun all day long, but also a place that offers some of the country’s best restaurants (no small feat for France), as well as world-class museums. Among the most unmissable is the Musee Matisse, which is just north of the city centre. As you’ve no doubt guessed, it displays work by Matisse, who lived nearby in the 1940s.
Rounding off our list is St Raphael, which offers quite a contrast to the destinations above. This quiet place is a real winner with families, thanks its welcoming atmosphere, good access to safe beaches and family-friendly accommodation. Plus, it offers all this without being too sleepy a place – there’s an excellent selection of watersports, for instance, particularly at the Marina Santa Lucia.